Vladimir Spivakov opened the New Hall of the Moscow House of Music in the format of modern art space. Olga Rusanova found the event extraordinary, and that is why.
More and more concert halls and music theatres have been opened in Russia in recent years, and it is already difficult to be surprised. But Vladimir Spivakov was able to surprise – after all, he proposed a fundamentally new format for combining music and visual art in today’s space. It is unusual – not museum, not formal: narrow corridors-foyer and one small room («Artistic Alfred Schnittke»). It is almost homely and comfortable here: high ceilings, lots of air and light. But the main thing is the special atmosphere created by Vladimir Spivakov, the initiator of the new type of site. He is a musician, president of the Moscow Art Theatre and a passionate collector. This is his gift to the public, very precisely designed for a small audience (the new hall can accommodate a maximum of 286 spectators). This means that people will not crowd, they will watch and enjoy.
What a broad, generous gesture in every respect! Although in fact the paintings and sculptures from the maestro’s personal collection have long since been hung up and all the corridors and offices of the Music House’s service part, which are closed to the public, are only visible to employees. And then there is real public space. Even we, the first audience journalists, were amazed, one of our colleagues could not stand it: «Don’t you feel sorry to part with these works?» Vladimir Spivakov did not hesitate: «When you give – it is, on the contrary, joy. I know that art brings joy to people. For me, it is much more important than keeping my work at home. You will not take anything with you anyway. And I wanted to make not just a room, but a place where arts come together, where «one art nourishes another». And I added that he often comes to museums before concerts in order to «elevate the spirit».
We were lucky that the owner of the paintings and sculptures himself gave a tour of the New Hall. It was possible to fully appreciate the artistic value and personal taste of the maestro, who has been collecting art for over thirty years and understands it to the finest. It is the whole world, even the space – his space into which he let us in. The styles are different, so are the artists, but in general, an aesthetic space of sophistication, beauty, selectivity and pieceiness has been created. In a sense, Spivakov has also voluntarily taken on an educational function, opening up new names and developing the public. After all, it is mainly the works of authors of the XX-XXI centuries, and different generations and trends: neopromytivistic paintings by Evgeny Rastorguev, whose centenary is celebrated around the world this year; geometric compositions by Boris Beach, who recently passed away… And our contemporaries – «Shadows» by Oksana Mas, abstractions by Olga Kroitor and Alexander Vorokhob, «constructivist» sculptures by Sergei Sergeev, textile dolls «without faces» by Natalia Velchinskaya. Artistic Schnittke features theatre sketches by Vladimir Arefiev and Robert Elibekian, and antique furniture. A semantic accent of the room – an expressive portrait of the work of Victor Brel: two angles, two faces of the composer, painfully thinking about something very important, perhaps eternal …
«I wanted to make a memorial room for Alfred Schnittke, a brilliant musician with whom I had a long relationship», said Vladimir Spivakov. – After one of our concerts in Germany, at the Schleswig-Holstein Festival, when he was already seriously ill (after a second stroke, I think), he called at intermission – there was an open broadcast then – and said: «What I heard was the composer’s dream come true». He also dedicated a work to me called Five Fragments from the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch. I wanted the atmosphere in which he lived and worked to continue to «sound» here and to bear the imprint of the master’s soul.
Vladimir Spivakov sometimes showed amazing persistence in «getting» things. For example, furniture from «Artistic Schnittke» appeared as follows: after learning about its sale, the maestro went to his widow Irina Schnittke in Hamburg, where she lives, and said that the furniture should not be somewhere on Rublevka, but certainly in the House of Music in Moscow. The furniture is antique, from the beginning of the 20th century (around 1910-1915) and was in a deplorable state. Spivakov beat it with the material that ended up on the curtains at Schnittke’s family’s house, brought a product from Paris that refreshed antique furniture, in a word, restored it, and now it looks simply luxurious.
Some of Spivakov’s exhibits were quickly represented, as if by a comma, while others were delayed in more detail. At the same time, do you know what is interesting? He did not talk so much about the works, but about their authors. They are all living people to him, with their biographies, features, and sometimes quirks. Let’s hear it:
«Here is the artist Gayane Khachaturyan – I have met few such people. She was always engaged only in pure art, lived in poverty and loved music very much, listened to the old record player with the needles of the records – the other 78 revolutions. Of course, they rattled and squeaked. When I saw this, I sent a real sound equipment to Tbilisi for her – a whole combine so that Gayane could create, because she only works with music. She was happy, and at home I have her gift – a painting «Theatre». And this thing that you see is called in French Pas de vagues («Don’t make a fuss») – in other words, «Don’t make a fuss» or «Make a fuss slowly». And that’s the deep meaning.
And now, in fact, about the hall. It arose in a previously empty room, which was just a concrete box. And what we saw was the fruit of many years of efforts to actually build a new site (according to Evgeny Chernikov, Deputy General Director of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the work has been carried out since 2017). Its main purpose is to rehearse. For the first time, the IMDM received a worthy rehearsal room, because the one that was used in this capacity before was tight, with low ceilings, «a real pest», as Vladimir Spivakov called it. And not without pride, he noted that the House of Music can now compete with the Avery Fisher Hall in New York or the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, each of which has stunning rehearsal space for the orchestra and choir. Of course, there are also some interesting things planned for the New Hall in addition to rehearsals. For example, film screenings: the first will take place on 24 April – a film for Victory Day and simultaneously for the 100th anniversary of the outstanding Bashkir poet Mustay Karim – with an interview with Nikita Mikhalkov, poems performed by Chulpan Khamatova and Sergei Bezrukov, and voiced by Vladimir Spivakov himself. «This is a slice of an era and a reminder of the purity of human relations, of the war that has taken so many lives and brought so much grief».
And, of course, concerts are planned in the poster of the New Hall – the first one took place on the day of its opening on March 9, with the soloist of the Bolshoi Theatre Anna Aglatova and the orchestra «Moscow Virtuosi» under the direction of Vladimir Spivakov himself. Thus, the new hall will be multifunctional, said Evgeny Chernikov. «The newest sound correction system has been installed here. The stage is also unusual: it is divided into segments, each can be lowered and raised separately from the others, which allows the hall to be adapted for sound recording and internet broadcasts of concerts. For example, choirs can stand on this stage like machines. What a transformer hall: the chairs are not installed once and for all, and depending on the format of the event, they can be moved or removed altogether. In addition, the hall was conceived and is already ready for sound recording: the most modern equipment from Yamaha is installed here. Moreover, concerts and performances from the other three halls of the House of Music can be recorded and webcast from here.
During an impromptu tour of the hall and foyer, Vladimir Spivakov always emphasized that everything here is done with meaning. And when at the end he brought to the impressive size Alexander Mochalov’s painting «Thy Will Be done» in the service foyer of the New Hall, we realized that this was the case.
«It was brought to me at a concert in Nizhny Novgorod. In the beginning I did not dare to buy this painting because I did not know where to hang it. I think that’s what happens to a lot of people: you see something, you don’t buy it, and it never goes out of your mind. I kept thinking: what a fantastic work this is: first of all it’s a very spiritual work, close to all of us. «Thy will be done» – as a matter of fact, I think so myself – about creativity and what I do. The great Russian artist Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin said: «Art is not fun, not entertainment, but a way of clairvoyance». I wanted this thing to be here. In the end, I called and told them to leave it behind, collect the money and buy it. And so I found this place – right at the entrance to the hall, so that people would come here like a temple – with a soul that had already been cleansed of all sorts of misery, of the weight of being.
The concert hall, museum, temple… This has never happened before. But Vladimir Spivakov did it.
Text: Olga Rusanova
Photo: Lena Balakireva, Vladimir Orekhov